WNY Arts Emergency Relief Fund in Response to COVID-19 Crisis. Applications Open Today May 1st

The current state of emergency caused by COVID-19 has profoundly impacted Western New York’s creative industry. With the cancellation of performances, workshops, gigs, and more, artists and arts and cultural organizations who rely on event-based income are losing revenue that is essential to continue their operations. As Western New Yorkers take pride in our resiliency, generosity, and collaborative spirit, ASI is excited to announce the creation of the WNY Arts Emergency Relief Fund with support from Fund for the Arts.

Our goal is simple: to ensure that our rich and diverse arts sector withstands this crisis. We know that the arts are a source of healing for communities; they bring us together and force us to reckon with the big questions of our shared experiences. When we make it to the other side of this crisis—and we will make it to the other side—we’ll need the arts more than ever.

The application opens today Friday, May 1. You can review our Frequently Asked Questions sheet here, review the eligibility requirements below, or preview the application below. If you still have questions after reviewing all of the materials for this fund, contact Holly Grant at holly@asiwny.org


Individuals who earn a living by creating or practicing art, including teaching artists and independent contractors whose primary work is in the arts of any discipline, are eligible to apply for this fund. Requests can be made of up to $1,000. Please review the eligibility criteria below before starting your application.

  • Must be a permanent resident of Erie, Niagara, Allegany, Cattaraugus, or Chautauqua counties.
  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Cannot be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program.
  • Must demonstrate a direct and significant loss of income directly related to arts and/or cultural work.
  • Priority will be placed on individuals whose primary source of income comes from creating or practicing art.


Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations that represent any creative discipline are eligible to apply for these funds. Requests can be made of up to $5,000. Please review the eligibility criteria below before starting your application.

  • Must be located in Erie, Niagara, Allegany, Cattaraugus, or Chautauqua counties.
  • Arts and cultural programming must be part of the mission and be the primary focus of programming.
  • Must have at least one full year of completed arts or cultural programming.
  • Must be a registered 501c3 nonprofit, tax exempt, or have CHAR500 status.
  • Must demonstrate a direct and significant loss of revenue due to cancelled events, programs, projects, etc.

Additional requirements for both individuals and organizations:

  • Funding cannot cover training, medical procedures, or be redistributed through a regrant program
  • Funding cannot be used to cover costs related to a program or project that has been previously funded by ASI (e.g., 2020 DEC or Global Warming Art Project)

The application will open on Friday, May 1. Click the button below to preview the application and set up your account in our grants portal.

Application Review and Deadlines

There is no deadline for this fund. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the fund is depleted. ASI staff will administer and review applications along with several community leaders on a weekly basis pending the number of requests and overall need. Applications will be consideredon a first come, first served basis. Funding will be assigned based on need and is representative of the full creative sector from a variety of perspectives including socio-economic, cultural heritage and history, ethnicity, size and scope of organization, artistic discipline, geographic location, and career-level of artists. Partial funding may be awarded instead of filling the full request.

Applications will be reviewed and assessed based on the following criteria:

  • Need for funding
  • Urgency of request
  • Impact of funding on organization/individual
  • Efforts to continue art and creative practice beyond COVID-19

Every application will be evaluated based on its own merits. Applicants must demonstrate the above items in their application. Applicants who do not receive funding will be provided feedback and may submit another application for consideration.

At this point, the WNY Arts Emergency Relief Fund is a one-time award. ASI is will be evaluating this process and the funds on a regular basis and may adjust our policies based on need and availability.

For Full Details and To Apply Go to https://www.asiwny.org/wny-arts-emergency-relief-fund